Quick Question with Beth Stone
A Conversation with Beth Stone on Hospitality
Have you always loved showing hospitality to others?
As a little girl, I’d go into people’s homes and immediately know how I felt there. I’d notice whether I felt welcomed or uncomfortable. So, I think I was probably wired that way, but when I gave my life to Christ and told Him I wanted to be used by Him, I feel like that’s when the Holy Spirit gave me that gift of hospitality and I began to be aware of it with other people.
When Dave and I got married, I experienced how his mom loved hospitality. It was an intentional part of their family life and an overflow of her faith. I loved that. And when we started ministry here, people would welcome us in to their homes. Then God started putting that passion in me to have people in our home. God’s called me out of myself and to focus on other people. I realized I really like it. I love seeing what God does through it.
When we came here, Dave was working with the college-age students. So immediately, we were in with all those kids and I loved having them in our home. I think God started me with that, showing me the importance of inviting people into your home, and then it led to women’s Bible studies and from there it just moved forward. And we had a tiny little house. Tiny. But we just packed it out.
Years ago, someone gave me a book called The Silent Witness. It’s all about how in setting up your home, you should think about those people who will come there. When guests come, will they know God is present there? It’s about conveying the message, “You’re loved. You’re special here. And if I don’t get a chance to tell you about Christ, I still want you to sense that the Holy Spirit is here.”
We play music all the time, praise music. We even have it playing on the porch. I have this idea that if Satan tries to come in on our territory here, I want him to know he’s not welcome. If he came, I’d want him to realize that the Spirit’s here. I wanted to create an atmosphere where Satan is not welcome, but when people come around, they feel that they are.
How do you see hospitality as a gift from the Holy Spirit?
I am an introvert by nature, very much. All those sanguine types like Dave–they need people around! They’re going to have a party and they’re going to invite people because they need all that interaction to thrive. But I’m not that way. I could be here by myself all the time and be fine with it. But God calls me to love people. If He’s called me to love those people, then I have to be obedient to that. And because if I can’t do it in my own nature, it’s the Spirit in me who does it. When He takes residence in you, you can do things you didn’t even think to do. I could have anybody in my home now and I would just love to talk with them.
I remember when we first moved here, I hosted Bible studies and another woman taught. And because we’re human, we want somebody else’s gift. I really wished I could teach the Bible the way she could. One day, she said to me, “Do you realize that I have the gift to teach women, but if I wanted to fill my house with women, there’d be nobody there. And you, on the other hand, you may not have the gift of teaching, but people just come.” That was so God. During that time, I didn’t even have to invite women. They would just come to me and say, “I heard you have a Bible study here. Is that what all those cars are?” And I’d say, “Yeah! Do you want to come?” God made it so easy. That’s when I realized, “OK. Maybe this is a gift and maybe God is wanting to use it.”
God’s been sweet to me; He lets me use my gifts in a way that I’m comfortable. We’ve all been called to be hospitable. Some people enjoy that more than others. I do enjoy it. I can’t say I don’t get stressed, but I enjoy it. But mostly, I enjoy seeing how the Spirit works through my weakness.
Did hospitality look different for you when you had small children?
When my kids were little, I had to determine what I could do. We didn’t have a lot of people over for dinner then, because it takes a whole day to prepare and I just didn’t have time for that! So, it had to be little things. We still had people over, but in other ways. We’d have parties with the youth or college kids where we could just order pizza or I could do appetizers or dessert. When I did women’s Bible studies, it was coffee and donuts. I tweaked it to match what I had time to do with little kids.
As my kids got older, I was able to let them help me. The reason why we’re called to be hospitable is to have people in, to share Christ with them. It’s the principle of honoring others above yourself. The more I knew I wanted to teach my kids that, the more I could say, “Guys, we’re having these people come. Can you be ready to ask questions?” It’s all about the guest.
And trust me, it doesn’t have to be pretty. I would put them in charge of the centerpiece and they’d go out in the yard and find something. One time, I told Sam he could do whatever he wanted to do for the centerpiece. He said, “What about my Noah’s Ark set?” We set that thing up on the table! That created conversation and we got to talk about God and His faithfulness.
It was so fun that when our kids were growing up, we always had groups in our home. I loved that for our kids! You think you’re doing something for the guests, but they always blessed us with our kids. Because of God allowing us to have people in, our kids got to experience so many different great people. If we hadn’t had them in our home, our kids would have missed out on that.
Sometimes young mamas will say, “My house is never clean!” Well, just straighten it up a little bit. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want people to know you put some effort into preparing for them. Don’t beat yourself up for that, but at the same time, don’t use your kids or messy house as an excuse because those things can always be an excuse.
Does Christmas make you especially excited about hospitality?
I grew up with the best memories of Christmas. I would come home and my mom had decorated and there were these sweet smells and everything was lovely. Not perfect, but good. Not everyone had that.
I want others to experience that good feeling of walking into someone’s home and it smells like Christmas and they’re going to get gifts and be loved. It’s what everyone should have grown up with, but not everyone did.
The more we’re aware of our surroundings and the hurting people around us, the more God will show us if there’s something He wants us to do. Sometimes, He may just want us to meet a need right then, by buying lunch or giving money. But sometimes, He wants us to do more. It always takes paying attention, being aware that there is a need, and being obedient. I think we just get so caught up in our own world that we forget there are hurting people. Christmas is a great time to pay more attention.
Are you looking forward to a new season of hospitality?
We’ve enjoyed the sweet honor of hosting people in our home. It’s been a sweet journey of getting to do that. But with Dave’s leadership transition in 2019, God’s taking us to a new season. It’s going to look different for us. And I know He’ll still give us opportunities in our home.
God brought us here. I told Dave that we’ve had the perfect house while he was the Senior Minister. This season has given us the opportunity to welcome many groups and people into this home. Our new chapter is going to look different for us. At the end of the day, I’m most comfortable in my own home. So, if I can invite someone into my home, then I’m happy.
I sometimes pray, “How’s it going to look with Dave’s new job, whatever it’s going to be? How are You going to use me?” I’m excited to see how God wants to use me next.
I’m thankful that when God brought us together, He gave me something I love that matches well with what Dave has been called to do. I think it’s made it easier for us to do ministry together. I have a husband who likes to invite people over; I think it’s good that I love that too. We know that’s not going to stop any time soon.